My Family

Director: Gregory Nava
Screenwriters: Gregory Nava, Anna Thomas

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


Gregory Nava’s My Family is a sterling accomplishment that takes one of the finest Latino acting ensembles ever assembled and makes us laugh, cry, and feel for a multigenerational family that spans the modern era in Los Angeles. The fact that this family history is a record that includes both success and failure, tumultuous and stable times, tragedy and triumph gives My Family the power and scope of an epic. The story begins in the 1920s, when patriarch José Sanchez makes the trek from a dusty pueblo in Mexico into the chaos of a youthful city in transition. Sanchez manages to find work and establishes a new life that plants the roots of a family tree which grows over the subsequent decades.

As narrated by Paco Sanchez (Edward James Olmos), one of José’s three sons, who along with their two sisters form the branches of the family tree, My Family traces the lives of its members in myriad directions: into marriage, violent death, professional achievement, social activism, machismo street life, jail, and finally, the future. An outstanding cast, which includes Jimmy Smits, Esai Morales, Eduardo Lopez Rojas, Elpidia Carrillo, Jenny Gago, Constance Marie, and Lupe Ontiveros, in addition to Olmos, touches and troubles us with a story that has not been told in this way before.

My Family is powerful melodrama that goes much deeper than emotional theatrics. Nava and coscreenwriter/producer Anna Thomas have created a potrait that is dynamic and effective because it captures an authentic landscape, history, and view of Los Angeles where the immigrant is not an outsider or marginal presence but the focus of attention. In the present political climate, it is both gratifying and refreshing to watch the richness of Latino lives play across the screen. The only stereotypes in this film, ironically, are a few Anglos. Executive-produced by Francis Ford Coppola along with Guy East and Tom Luddy, My Family is a passionate film which gives us something to think and feel about.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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